9 things you absolutely need to know before moving to the UAE in 2020
Cities of the UAE, like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, are among the most international and advanced in the world. For anyone moving to the UAE, the technological advancement compiled with the hot weather and strong Islamic traditions is what makes the country so intriguing.
In this blog by Pacific Prime Dubai, we’ll take you through 9 things you need to know before moving to the UAE in 2020.
1. Be ready for the scorching sun
In the summer it can be as hot as 48 degrees Celsius (118 Fahrenheit). If you’ve never experienced this kind of heat before, think about this:
- If you crack an egg open in the sun, you’ll end up with an omelet.
That’s right, it’s literally burning hot in the UAE. So how do you cope with this kind of heat as an expat who starts sweating as soon as it gets hotter than the average room temperature?
Here are a few tips to help you survive in the UAE’s heat:
- Clothing: Stick with light fabric and avoid exposing your skin in the heat. Dressing down won’t help, it’ll make you vulnerable to painful sunburns and you’ll also be disrespecting local customs!
- Air Conditioning: Aircons will save your life during the summer. Luckily, there is aircon everywhere in the UAE, even at bus stops.
- Drink plenty of water: You are going to be sweating constantly during the summer. This makes it extremely important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
- Become an early bird: Doing outdoor activities at dawn is a great way to avoid the heat. By waking up extra early, you’ll be able to avoid the heat and have more free time during the day.
2. Learn some Arabic
Cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi are among the most culturally diverse places on earth. You’ll be able to get around just fine with English. However, being able to speak a bit of Arabic will go a long way to help you bond with locals and colleagues during your time in the country.
This doesn’t mean that you have to become a fluent Arabic speaker in order to get along with others in the UAE, but being able to say a few simple sentences will separate you from other expats and let you experience a glimpse of an Emirati’s true lifestyle.
3. Weekends are on Fridays and Saturdays
Gone are the lousy, sleepy, homesick Mondays. In the UAE, you’ll instead be coming into work on Sundays. This may come as a shock to many expats who have never traveled to the country, let alone moving to the UAE.
It may take a while for you to get used to waking up early and going to work on Sundays, but over time, your 5-day work week will feel no different to a normal week at home.
The reason behind this unique weekend schedule is that Friday is a holy day in Islam. The good news is, after a long night out on Thursday, you’ll be able to take Fridays off!
4. Prepare for Ramadan – regardless of your religion
In the UAE, Ramadan is a national phenomenon. While the UAE is one of the most liberal and progressive countries in the region, you’ll be affected by Ramadan, regardless of your religion.
During this one-month fasting period, all non-Muslims are prohibited from eating, drinking, and smoking in public during the fasting hours. To prepare, you should have food ready to eat at home or at work, away from others who are fasting.
At night, don’t forget to join the most amazing night markets, filled with people celebrating their day-long fastings. There, you’ll experience some of the most exciting and heart-warming atmospheres you’ll ever find in the UAE.
5. Drinking isn’t illegal – but there’s a stigma against it
Most expats moving to the UAE will find that while drinking isn’t illegal, there’s a clear social stigma against alcohol consumption in the country.
With that said, there are plenty of stunning night bars in the country, where you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the city with a delicious glass of wine.
However, drinking in public is strictly illegal. You may also want to avoid bringing up drinking when talking to a local because of the social stigma against it.
6. Embrace global cuisines
A key perk that comes with moving to the UAE is the wide range of cuisines available. From French, Indian, and Japanese, you’ll be able to find whatever you’re looking for in the Emirates.
Apart from these common types of cuisine, you’ll also be able to find quality Middle Eastern dishes everywhere. If you’re moving to the UAE, it’s time to widen your gastronomical experience and try local dishes that aren’t available anywhere else in the world.
7. It’s safe in the UAE – but lookout for these things
The UAE is famous for being one of the safest places on the planet. The crime rates are mind-bogglingly low, attracting high-income earners from all over the world.
However, there are still some health and safety risks you should look out for. They are as follows:
- Due to the wide availability of high-sugar food, almost 20% of the UAE’s population is affected by diabetes.
- Rates of lung cancer are exceptionally high in the UAE, resulting from the growing number of people smoking in the country.
- Abide strictly by UAE laws. Laws in the UAE are much more conservative than in Western countries, and foreigners being detained or deported from the country is not uncommon.
8. The cost of living isn’t cheap
Unlike other countries that are popular with expats, the UAE won’t give you any financial advantages. The cost of living is expensive, and there’s no way around it.
However, there are financial perks that make working in the country a great opportunity for expats. For instance, there’s no income tax in this gulf nation. This will allow you to grow your career and make a living in the country, despite the high cost of rent, food, and transportation.
9. Health insurance is mandatory for all Dubai residents
If you’re planning on moving to Dubai, you will be legally required to get individual health insurance. Getting health insurance in Dubai is also a requirement for getting a work visa.
For this reason, it’s important that you secure international health insurance or private health insurance in the UAE as soon as possible. In a foreign country, consulting experts in the region can help you quickly find the right plan.
In his free time, Phuwit enjoys reading and playing badminton. He also loves a good cup of coffee.
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